Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Friday said the company saw a 99.6% drop in passenger traffic in April as coronavirus has limited travel worldwide.

In a statement, the group of two main airlines reported that they carried a total of 13,729 passengers last month, a 99.6% drop year-on-year.

“The month’s revenue passenger kilometres fell 99.3% year-on-year. Passenger load factor plummeted by 62.3 percentage points to 21.7%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres, decreased by 97.3%,” the airline said in a statement posted on their website.

In the first four months of 2020, the number of passengers carried dropped by 64.4% against a 49.9% decrease in capacity and a 59.1% decrease in revenue passenger kilometers, as compared to the same period of last year, the company explained.

Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us in an unprecedented way.

“We made an unaudited loss of HK$4.5 billion at the full-service airline level (Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon) and the financial outlook continues to be very bleak for the coming few months at least,” he said.

Lam said he saw no “immediate signs of improvement” as the airline expected to carry around 500 passengers per day in May. The airline earlier was carrying around 100,000 people a day.

“We expect that our average daily passenger numbers will remain at around 500 in May, and that business and leisure travel will remain severely impacted for the foreseeable future. Overall, we do not anticipate we will see a meaningful recovery for an extended period,” Lam said.

“This is the biggest challenge to aviation we have ever witnessed. We are evaluating all aspects of our business to ensure that we remain strong and competitive when we emerge from this crisis,” he added.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) updated analysis indicating that the COVID-19 crisis will see global airline passenger revenues drop by $314 billion in 2020, a 55% decline compared to 2019.

Airlines in Asia Pacific will see the largest revenue drop of $113 billion and a 50% fall in passenger demand year-on-year, according to Cathy, the fifth largest cargo airline in the world.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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